Overall, we found that the main obstacles to real-time planning are inflexible legacy technologies (which leaders often cited as their biggest roadblock) and bureaucratic organizational culture (most often cited by the laggards). The CHROs surveyed agreed that a bureaucratic culture is the biggest obstacle to moving to a more comprehensive, real-time planning system.
Interestingly, when compared to other functional leaders, CIOs tend to agree with the CHRO outlook on bureaucracy, whereas CEOs and CFOs say that it’s unskilled employees, not red tape, that’s keeping the company from moving to real-time business planning.
Fluid Structures and Processes
A change in business plans often forces changes to organizational structures or business processes, or even the creation of completely new ones. Businesses demonstrating organizational agility are able to quickly realign their two most important assets—people and financial resources—to meet organizational requirements.
Our research found that leaders build flexible structures and processes to adapt to changing business plans, including having the systems in place to understand skills gaps in their business, while laggards do not. Once again, inflexible technology and a culture of bureaucracy also prevent businesses from building agile structures and processes.
Most of the functional leaders surveyed, including the CHRO, name inflexible technology as the main barrier to updating business processes. The CIO is the only C-suite position to point to a bureaucratic culture as the biggest barrier.
When it comes to the proportion of C-suite leaders who agree that their organization’s back, middle, and front office processes are “completely integrated,” CHROs have the brightest outlook, with 71% of them (followed by 70% of CEOs) saying these processes are completely integrated.
Upskill the Future Workforce
Many organizations have discovered that vast proportions of their recent revenue are directly linked to skill areas that didn’t exist even five years ago. Skills are constantly changing, with new ones appearing while others become obsolete. Businesses have to help their workforces develop new skills to support and deliver new digital revenue streams.
In our study, leaders were four times more likely than laggards to have plans to upskill at least 75% of their workforce in order to meet talent requirements in the future world of work. More than three quarters of respondents agree that, to retain talent, their organization needs a more fluid approach to growing and deploying their people.
Functional leaders expect different skills to increasingly become a priority to their role over the next five years, with CHROs naming “competence in using new tools and technologies” as the most valuable skill in their function over the next five years, and CEOs naming “advanced analytics and data visualization.” Interestingly, CFOs list “cognitive ability to contend with constant change,” which we found especially forward thinking.
Functional leaders are largely in agreement that their ability to succeed in the marketplace is closely tied to keeping employees engaged. CHROs are significantly more likely to be driving this agenda (88% in agreement). CIOs are the second most in agreement with this notion, at 85%.
Empower Employees to Make Decisions
Ultimately it’s the workforce that will drive successful execution of business plans—including digital, the focus of this study. Workers need to be empowered with the right information at the right time to make the best possible decisions for the business.